WEST MIDDLESEX — In what used to be a computer tech room, students have added new coats of paint and removed drywall, but there’s still more work to be done.
Next, West Middlesex Jr. Sr. High School students will tear up the carpet, install ventilation and add a darkroom before the entrepreneurship class’ T-shirt business, “Tomahawk Tees,” can get started by next school year.
The business began earlier this year in teacher Trisha Knight’s entrepreneurship class. Sophomore Garrett Donaldson said the students thought the course would involve strictly book-based instruction.
That was before Knight told students what they would be doing for the semester. The goal was for the students to start their own business.
“We came up with a few different ideas like a coffee shop or an ice cream shop, but then we had the idea for a T-shirt business, and everybody seemed to really latch on to that idea,” Donaldson said.
To help get an idea of how to operate the venture, the West Middlesex students visited Reynolds School District, where a business class has already started a similar T-shirt business. The field trip allowed the students to see and try firsthand how design and production processes would work, senior Madie Shick said.
“I kind of messed up my T-shirt, but they let us keep the shirts that we made,” Shick said.
There will be two classes, with 12 students each, operating the business. A student “CEO” will oversee both classes while a student “manager” will lead each class, Knight said.
The students will handle different parts of the T-shirt decal process, which includes creating the design with a computer program, followed by a few steps that culminate in a screen being used to put the design onto the shirts.
“You have to really make sure the screen is cleaned off when you’re done, because if it’s not totally cleaned then the next shirt you do will have some of the last design on it,” Donaldson said.
To help purchase supplies for the business, sophomore Justin O’Neill presented the class’ business idea to the West Middlesex Kiwanis Club. The club decided not only to donate $500 that was used on paint, but members volunteered to build shelves for the room.
The business is expected to be self-sustaining once it is underway, with income from sales expected to cover the expenses involved. However, because of the first-time costs of getting the business started, the students had to make a presentation to the West Middlesex School Board in February.
“It was definitely a little nerve-wracking presenting to the board, but they really seemed to like the idea,” sophomore Drake Muir said.
West Middlesex School Board approved the project, though the budgeting process for the school district is still ongoing, and the exact amount allocated to the business has yet to be determined, Knight said.
The business is scheduled to be operational in October, so the Tomahawk Tees will be able to sell shirts at events such as football games or for school clubs and sports teams, as well as outside parties. The class already has its first order lined up – the West Middlesex Kiwanis.
“They asked us if we could do aprons for them for their annual pancake breakfast,” Knight said.
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